Consumer product giant Unilever says prices are falling in Europe; "sharp" slowdown in China

AMSTERDAM – Unilever PLC, the maker of consumer products including Dove soaps, Lipton teas and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, says it saw price deflation in Europe’s largest markets in the third quarter.

The company reported third-quarter sales of 12.2 billion euros ($15.4 billion) Thursday, down 2.0 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier. However it said “underlying sales,” a measure that excludes currency effects and the impact of acquisitions, were up 2.1 per cent.

The company said it saw price deflation in many markets across Europe, including Germany, France and Britain. The company cut prices in North America, though sales volumes grew.

Unilever said growth is slowing in emerging markets. In China, its sales fell 20 per cent after a “sharp market slowdown” prompted distributors to reduce their inventory.